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From a career in IT to become a paramedic: how a Lviv "Lastivka" helps Donetsk region

Roksolana Vynnytska, known as "Lastivka," hails from Lviv, Ukraine. She is a social pedagogue and practical psychologist by education but works as a Community Manager in IT. As a volunteer and paramedic, Roksolana started assisting the military and civilians in 2018. She made various trips to the Donbas region, organizing camps and activities for children, and providing humanitarian aid to civilians. In 2023, Roksolana completed courses at the Hospitallers training center and became a paramedic.

Roksolana Vynnytska, "Lastivka" from Hospitallers

Roksolana began volunteering at the age of 13. She was born and raised in Lviv, where she actively engaged in volunteer work during her adolescence. She started as an animator at a church, working with children, organizing camps and recreational activities, and participating in various volunteer initiatives in Lviv. With a degree in psychology, Roksolana worked at a children's orphanage. According to Roksolana, she had planned to join a Lviv-based organization's trip to perform in the Donetsk region with the mobile theater during Christmas in 2018. With the mobile theater group, Roksolana visited around 30 locations from Luhansk to Mariupol. After her first trip to Donetsk, Roksolana returned to Lviv but with a clear understanding that she would return to Donbas, and she did so multiple times. Roksolana actively joined volunteer initiatives, started traveling to Donbas to assist the civilian population, and organized recreational activities for children in villages.

Why "Lastivka"?

"Why "Lastivka"? Throughout my life, friends and acquaintances associated me with birds and gave me various bird-related items because I am very freedom-loving, independent, and I love the sky. They said I am as dedicated to Ukraine and my volunteering as birds are to the sky. Once, a friend gave me a talisman in the shape of a swallow, and I got a tattoo of a swallow combined with the coat of arms. When I joined the Hospitallers, it was immediately clear that I am 'Lastivka,'" says Roksolana.

When the war started in 2022, the girl said she didn't have any thoughts of leaving anywhere. The day before, she ordered nets for the military, and all her thoughts were focused on how to deliver these nets to her fellow soldiers in the East, the girl.

"I had many acquaintances who wrote to me that day, saying, 'Roksolana, what should we do?' We immediately started actively helping. We loaded cars with medicines, food, equipment, and more. My first trip during the full-scale war was in May - we went to the de-occupied territories of Kyiv region to the civilians. We simply saw children, stopped the car, and gave them food, sweets, and toys. Then, we went with gifts to Pavlograd for children with special needs who had been evacuated there from Maryinka,".

Roksolana Vynnytska, "Lastivka" from Hospitallers

"Donbas is my special love. Sometimes I wonder why I wasn't born and raised there. We were there in May during rotation when everything was blooming and green. I couldn't fully enjoy the surroundings. Donbas is very beautiful — steppes, fields, villages, and streets with multicolored lilacs. If it weren't for the war, I would visit just to relax. To give you an idea, I know the Donetsk region better than Lviv region. I met many people there who are like family to me. I always say that I found my second home there," says Roksolana.

Paramedic and IT specialist

To have the opportunity to volunteer and continue helping, Roksolana took a job as a Community Manager in an IT company. During rotations, she works in IT, and she says that the management understands that she occasionally needs to take time off for service.

In addition to the training in the Hospitallers training center, Roksolana learned the basics of first aid, studied protocols for providing assistance, and attended additional courses. It should be noted that Roksolana does not have a medical education, but thanks to the training and education she received in the Hospitallers, she can assist medical personnel and help on the front lines. The crew that goes out to transport the wounded includes experienced doctors and paramedics with different levels of experience.

"It's hard to say how much time one trip took for us because the journey to the hospital with a wounded person took anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes, and it took about 2 hours in total. Based on my experience, the injuries were of various types, but I didn't experience any shock or paralysis from what I saw. I understood well where I was going and why, and in addition, I had a great team (crew) that always helped, guided, and supported me."

Roksolana Vynnytska, "Lastivka" from Hospitallers

In July, Roksolana will once again be heading to the rotation. In addition to her current work, she is currently assisting the NGO "Mutual Aid." The efforts of the organization provide support to the Bakhmut direction, among other things. Roksolana has been providing informational assistance for two months, managing the Telegram channel of the organization and attracting new subscribers and potential donors. What can civilians do to help paramedics?

"We will win this war when everyone is involved, not only the soldiers and medics on the front lines, but also everyone here, at home. It's important that the war doesn't become routine. We must remember the price we've been paying for every centimeter of our homeland. Even a small step every day brings us closer to victory: donating, spreading awareness, volunteering — it's already more than nothing. It already makes us winners," explained the girl. #Hospitallers #Paramedics #UkraineParamedics #HospitallersUkraine #HospitallersUK #HelpHospitallers #Ukraine #SupportUkraine #HelpUkraine #StandWithUkraine #HelpUkraineNow

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